“The Entire Tupi-Lusitanian Shaggy-Dog Capitalism Joke”

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The cowçadão. [Rim shot.] By the time you finish explaining the pun, it is no longer that funny. But it is still pretty funny. It was surprising, however, not to see a protest over the failure to use the Brazilian boi zebu in the competition. Source: Rio Cow Parade.

You have two cows. You make an effort to teach the cows to moo in English. The cows die. You donate their meat to the International Monetary Fund’s annual holiday barbecue. —“Capitalism in Argentina”

Sérgio Ricardo Santa sends it in to Brazilian business journalist Luis Nassif.

Whereupon Russia and Canada recall their D’oh Ha! trade negotiators.

The Portuguese (from whom the Brazilians are separated by a common language) have an inkling they have been insulted as well, but cannot quite make out what was said.

American capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and force the other to produce enough milk for four cows. You are surprised when she dies.

French capitalism: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three.

Canadian capitalism: You have two cows. You apply the American model. The cows die. You blame Brazilian protectionism and adopt antiprotectionist measures in order to get the three cows of the French model.

Japanese capitalism: You have two cows. You redesign them to be one-tenth the size of a normal cow and produce 20 times as much milk. You then create cartoons about the tiny cows, called Vakemon, and sell them around the world.


Italian capitalism: You have two cows. One of them is your mama and the other is your mother-in-law, ya bum!

Enron capitalism: You have two cows. You sell three to your publicly traded company using credits issued by your brother-in-law. Then you swap debt for equity through an IPO so that you get all four cows back, with complete tax-exemption for the five cows that you now have. The rights to those six cows are transferred to a corporation in the Caymans whose secret majority shareholder is an Enron exec who sells the rights to those seven cows back to his own company. The annual report states that the company owns eight cows, with an option to buy one more.

You sell one of your cows to buy a President of the United States and are left with only nine cows. No one provides a balance sheet, and the public buys the fertilizer your cows produce.

British capitalism: You have two cows. Both of them are mad.

Dutch capitalism: You have two cows. They live together, they don’t like bulls, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

German capitalism: You have two cows. They produce milk according to the standards of quality and the production deadlines previously established, precisely and profitably. But what you would really rather be doing is raising pigs.

Russian capitalism: You have two cows. You count them and find that you have five. You count them again and find that you have 42. You count them again and find that you have 12. You stop counting and open another bottle of vodka.

Swiss capitalism: You have 500 cows, but none of them belong to you. You charge for looking after other people’s cows.

Spanish capitalism: You are extremely proud of owning two cows.

Portuguese capitalism: You have two cows. You complain because your herd does not increase.

We have a flack friend in San Francisco who does work for the cause of Portuguese tourism  — we hear from independent sources that it really is lovely — and would be very disappointed in me for reproducing this slur on the proud nation of navigators that produced the Cantigas de Santa Maria, fado, and the Carnation Revolution.

Disclaimer: I merely translate; I do not necessarily associate myself with the implication of the insinuation.

Chinese capitalism: You have two cows and 300 people milking them. You boast of achieving full employment and high productivity, and arrest the activist who published the numbers.

Indian capitalism: You have two cows, and woe betide anyone who touches them.

Brazilian capitalism: You have two cows. One is stolen. The government creates the CCPV, the “compulsory contribution on cow ownership.” An auditor writes you up because even though you collected the proper amount of CCPV, you were supposed to base it on the notional, not the actual, number of cows. The tax authority, based on equally notional data about your consumption of milk, cheese, leather, and buttons, assumes you have 200 cows. To extricate yourself from the mess, you give the auditor the remaining cow in exchange for forgetting about the whole thing.

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